Diamond is the hardest naturally found element on earth. It also has the highest thermal conductivity and is used in several critical industrial applications. Diamonds are known to us since before the age of antiquity and are believed to first discovered in India.
Today, the most popular use of diamonds is as gemstones to make decorative items and jewelry. In principle, the value of a gemstone is based on its rarity. Diamonds, though, are more valuable, and relatively common than other rare gems such as alexandrite. The global annual production rate of rough diamonds is close to 130 million carats or 26 tons.
Below, we have compiled a list of the largest diamonds in the world based on their weight. It includes large diamonds that are cut into smaller ones and those that are now lost. But before we get started, there are certain terms that you should get familiar with.
Carat: Weight measure of a diamond. One carat is 200 milligrams.
Clarity: Diamond clarity is a measure of inclusion, which can either be foreign impurities or structural flaws such as cracks.
11. Golden Jubilee Diamond
Golden Jubilee Diamond
Weight: 755.5 Carats
Cut Weight: 545.67 Carats
Owner: King of Thailand
The brown-colored Golden Jubilee diamond is the largest cut diamond (of any color) in the world, about 15.37 carats heavier than the Cullinan I. Coincidentally, the Golden Jubilee was discovered from the same diamond mine (Premier Mine in South Africa) as the Cullinan.
The diamond has quite a bit of cultural history. Right after it was bought by Henry Ho, the founder of the Jewelry Trade Center, in Bangkok in 1995, the Golden Jubilee was sent to the Vatican to receive a papal blessing. It also received blessing from the head of the Buddhist monks in Thailand.
For past years, it has been on display in different locations all over the world and is currently located at Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
10. Millennium Star
The Millennium Star Diamond
Weight: 777 Carats
Cut Weight: 203.04 Carats
The Millennium Star is the largest known colorless diamond in the world. It was discovered in alluvial plains in Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo). It was acquired by De Beers, one of the largest diamond exploration and retail companies, during the civil war in the mid-90s.
The Millennium Diamond was displayed publicly for the first time in 1999, as part of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection. In his book, Diamond Geezers, journalist Kris Hollington mentioned a detailed history of the diamond, including an attempted theft in 2000.
9. Great Mogul Diamond
A replica of Great Mogul Diamond | Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Weight: 780 Carats
Cut Weight: 280 Carats
The ninth-largest diamond in the world, the Great Mogul, is believed to be discovered sometime around 1650 from the Kollur Mine in modern-day Andhra Pradesh, India. The diamond landed into the possession of Shah Jahan, the fifth ruler of the Mughal Dynasty (he received it as a political gift).
For decades, it remained one of the most celebrated stones in the Mughal Empire. Sometime around 1665, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb presented it to Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th-century French traveler, and gold merchant. He described the diamond as; “The stone is of the same form as if one cut an egg through the middle.”
The Great Mogul mysteriously disappeared in the mid-1700s and was never found. Many historians, however, believe the lost diamond has been re-cut to create Orlov.
Weight: 793 Carats
Cut Weight: 105.6 Carats
The Koh-i-Noor, often spelled as Kohinoor, is perhaps one of the most popular as well as controversial diamonds on earth. Since its discovery, most possibly in the 12th century, from Kollur Mine (located in Andhra Pradesh, India), the Kohinoor has been a part of many historically significant crown jewels and ornates.
In 1849, the diamond landed in possession of the British Empire and was re-cut from 191 carats to its current size. It is currently on display at the Tower of London’s Jewel House.
For decades, the Kohinoor diamond has instigated diplomatic controversies between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom, all claiming to be its rightful owner.
7. Lesotho 910 carat diamond (to check)
Weight: 910 carats
Lesotho 910 carat diamond is the seventh-largest gem-quality diamond in the world. It was discovered in Lesotho’s (a small landlocked country in Africa) Letseng diamond mine in 2018.
The Letseng diamond mine is known for producing some of the world’s most expensive stones. In 2015, a 357-carat diamond from the Letseng mine was sold for about $20 million.
According to mining experts, Lesotho 910 carat diamond could be worth well over $40 million.
6. Star of Sierra Leone
Weight: 968.9 carat
Star of Sierra Leone was a large emerald shape stone, discovered in the mines near the Koidu town in Sierra Leone (West Africa). A few months after its discovery, the diamond was bought by a New York City jeweler for $2.5 million.
The initial cut-weight of the diamond was 143.2 carats. A later re-cut of the gem produced 17 smaller diamonds, thirteen of which are virtually flawless.
The Star of Sierra Leone is also known for its chemical purity.
5. Excelsior Diamond
Weight: 970 carats
The Excelsior was the largest diamond in the world before the discovery of Cullinan in 1905. At the time of its discovery, the rough stone weighed 971 carats (about 194.2 grams) and shaped roughly as a leaf. It was found in South Africa’s Jagersfontein Mine in Northern Cape Province.
In 1903, the diamond was cut into 11 pieces of varying weights. The reason was that it was too large and expensive for any single buyer.
At that time, the decision to cut down the Excelsior into smaller pieces received widespread criticism. Experts have also expressed that the diamond should have cut to produce a single largest diamond.
In the 1990s, Excelsior I (69.68 carats) was sold for about $2,642,000.
4. Graff Lesedi La Rona
Front-view of Lesedi La Rona | Image Courtesy: Graff
Weight: 1,111 carats
Cut Weight: 302.37
Lesedi La Rona is the fourth-largest gem-quality diamond in the world. The diamond was bought by British jeweler Graff for $53 million in 2017, two years after it was discovered in Botswana.
In 2019, the diamond was cut and transformed into a single large diamond Graff Lesedi La Rona weighing 302.37 carats, and 66 smaller ones.
The diamond was initially named Karowe AK6, after the mine where it was found. Its name was later changed to Lesedi La Rona, meaning “Our Light” in the Tswana language.
The discovery of Lesedi La Rona was done using an X-ray enabled large diamond recovery machine, TOMRA. A single TOMRA sorter can scan 150 tons of material per hour.
3. Cullinan III
A portrait of Queen Mary wearing four of the largest Cullinan diamonds. Cullinan III is on her necklace
Weight: 3106.75 carat
Cut Weight: 94.4 carat
On January 26, 1905, a diamond measuring 10.1 cm long and 6.3 cm in width was retrieved from a mine in a small town of Cullinan, South Africa. It was three times as big as the Excelsior diamond. It was named after the mine’s chairmen at the time, Thomas Cullinan.
A few months after its discovery, the rough gem was put on sale, but it went unsold despite its soaring popularity. In 1907, the diamond was bought by the Transvaal Colony (a former British colony in modern-day South Africa) for £150,000 as a gift to Edward VII, the king of England.
Under Edward VII’s order, the Cullinan diamond was cut down into several pieces; about nine major and 96 minor ones. The three of the largest Cullinans, namely Cullinan I, Cullinan II, and Cullinan III, are also the largest diamonds in the world.
Cullinan III, also known as Lesser Star of Africa, is a pear-shaped diamond and weighs around 18.8 g (94.4 carats) and is occasionally used by Elizabeth II, the queen of the United Kingdom.
2. Cullinan II
Cut Weight: 317.4 carat
Cullinan II, also known as the Second Star of Africa, is the second-largest stone carved out of the original Cullinan. The diamond is one of the centerpieces of the Imperial State Crown (located below the large Black Prince Ruby), which is used during a coronation ceremony in the British monarchy. Cullinan II is a cushion-cut diamond with a total of 66 facets. It has a number of scratches and minute flaws.
1. Cullinan I
Nine of the largest diamonds cut from rough Cullinan (Cullinan I on top middle)
Cut Weight: 530.4 carat
Popularly known as the Great Star of Africa, Cullinan I is a near-pear shaped (pendeloque cut) diamond with a total of 74 facets. In 1992, Cullinan I was surpassed by Golden Jubilee Diamond as the largest cut diamond in the world of any color. The former, however, is still the largest clear cut diamond. Cullinan I was valued at $2.5 million (about $51 million now) in 1908.
Since 1910, the Cullinan I can be seen on top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, an ornamental gold rod held by the monarch during a coronation, which was redesigned to accommodate it.
The diamond is fitted in such a way that it can be removed and wore independently. In 1911, Queen Mary wore four of the largest Cullinan diamonds during her first State Opening of Parliament.